RCMP in Nanaimo, B.C., say a man pushing his belongings in a shopping cart was targeted by a group of people in a small black car who used the vehicle to run over the man and then doused him with pepper-spray.
"This incident is extremely troubling as it appears from all accounts; the victim was targeted for being a marginalized person," Const. Gary O'Brien said in a release.
"Our priority is to find out who is responsible and to ensure this does not happen again."
Around 9:30 p.m. PT on Saturday police received several calls from witnesses who told officers that the victim was pushing a shopping cart with his belongings along Victoria Avenue near 102 Street in Nanaimo when a black car with multiple people inside stopped next to him.
Witnesses said the victim and the people in the car spoke to each other before the driver of the suspect vehicle allegedly sped up and drove over the man and knocked him to the ground.
Police say the victim was then allegedly pepper-sprayed by an occupant of the suspect vehicle as he lay on the ground. The vehicle then drove off.
Paramedics transported the 45-year-old victim to hospital with serious injuries, police said. The detachment collected the victim's belongings and will hold them until he is able to collect them.
O'Brien said the victim required surgery to treat his injuries.
Investigators are hoping witnesses can come forward to provide a licence plate of the suspect vehicle and a better description of the suspects. They are currently collecting video from nearby surveillance cameras. O'Brien says police are confident they will apprehend the suspects.
Those with information are asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 and quote file #2021-25532.